An open letter to Audible.com

04/19/09

An open letter to Audible.com

Here’s the feedback I submitted to Audible.com:

I just started on Audible, and have only downloaded one book. I found the experience very annoying, and am debating if I want to remain a member.

First, I had to enable JavaScript to even sign up for your site.

Second, I had to download, install and configure custom software to download books. Have you ever noticed that EVERYONE hates iTunes? That’s exactly what AudibleManager reminds me of.

Third, AudibleManager had problems with Sandboxie (http://www.sandboxie.com/). I finally had to run Firefox outside the sandbox (another security issue, along with the JavaScript) in order to get this to work.

Fourth, AudibleManager contacts your site. I had to configure my firewall to permit this.

Fifth, I use an iPod. I don’t trust iTunes, and disable all automatic syncing. I manage my library manually. I wanted to do the same with Audible. This was quite difficult. I finally figured out the procedure. Basically I had to download the file into my AudibleManager library, copy it, paste the file into Windows Explorer, open iTunes, add the file to the iTunes library (because it won’t let you add a .aa file to your iPod otherwise, unlike .mp3 files), and then drag it over to my iPod.

Contrast this with Amazon’s MP3 downloads. OK, I did install their MP3 download manager. But its interface is simple, it downloads files to a directory of my choice, and it works in a sandbox. After I purchase and download the MP3 files, I bring up iTunes and drag the files onto my iPod. Done.

Maybe there’s an easier way to do this, but it’s not at all clear from your site. I was given an array of confusing options - formats, install devices, etc. AudibleManager is not intuitive - you can’t right-click a file and say Save File As. I develop software for a living, and I want to be in control of my computer and my files.

- Bill Sorensen

(If they respond, I’ll try to post it here.)


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